New Strategies to Get More Financial Aid

An earlier timeline could mean changing the way you manage income and assets.

(Image credit: © 2016 Png Studio)

Starting this fall, the process of applying for financial aid gets a reboot. College students and their families will be able to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—used to determine financial aid from the government as well as from colleges—three months earlier, or as early as October 1. Instead of estimating data from tax returns not yet filed, families will use earlier returns to report income and assets.

The new timeline will change other parts of the financial aid process as well. Some colleges may supply families with financial aid offers (which now typically arrive in March or April) earlier in the student’s senior year, says David Levy, of Edvisors. Such a move would give families more time to review packages and contact schools with questions or concerns before deciding which school to attend. Some colleges have moved up priority deadlines for applying for institutional aid. Families should submit the FAFSA as early as possible, as financial aid is often doled out on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Kaitlin Pitsker
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Pitsker joined Kiplinger in the summer of 2012. Previously, she interned at the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and with Chronogram magazine in Kingston, N.Y. She holds a BS in magazine journalism from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.